The lesser-known downsides of raising iron stores by injection or infusions

Iron injections or infusions are increasingly becoming the standard medical ‘quick fix’ response to low iron levels in Women.

And whilst they obviously may be necessary in life-saving or severe anaemia situations, they are not the ideal method to raise one’s iron stores for the following reasons:

Iron is highly oxidative with a very reactive potential which can result in physiological tissue or organ damage to the body from the high amounts administered.

Sudden excess iron is in essence toxic to the body, overwhelming the body’s natural ‘checks and balances’. There are also numerous essential steps involving biochemical conversion enzymes to facilitate the storage of iron in the organs.

These enzymes can become overwhelmed; giving rise to long-term organ damage –particularly the heart, renal nephrons of the kidneys, and the liver (Chan: 2018).

Significant free radical (ROS) damage is believed to occur which can potentially predispose to malignancy in later life (Chan: 2010).

A life-threatening, immediate adverse reaction to an iron injection/infusion is anaphylactic shock (Cerino: 2017), so highly atopic people or those with multiple sensitivities or allergies should be closely supervised for possible complications.

Inexpertly-given iron injections can result in cosmetic or localised tissue complications such as skin abscess or permanent ‘rust-like’ staining of the skin. Women will often report a Telogen Effluvium excessive scalp hair shedding due to ‘body ‘shock’.

Burns et al (1999) suggest patients in poor health, compromised immunity or autoimmune conditions should be carefully monitored post-infusion. Those with a known history of iron overload (Haemochromatosis) or Thalassaemia are not usually infusion candidates.

Finally – because iron – or any mineral – is potentially toxic to the body in excess amounts, the body will endeavor to eliminate it via the kidneys and liver. This is one reason why injected or infused iron levels become excessively elevated initially but then fall away quite rapidly – and not stored – as the body strives to excrete it.

This process essentially negates the reason/s for having the iron injection or transfusion in the first instance (in my opinion).

Human beings have evolved by having almost all nutrients absorbed and made available to the body from the gut. ‘We should strive to replicate’ such nutrient supply practices (Cannell: 2012).

Copyright Anthony Pearce 2018